A brief two-game losing streak with losses against the Charlotte Hornets and Philadelphia 76ers seemed to indicate some issues chemistry wise early on with the Orlando Magic. Facing the Boston Celtics, one of the Eastern Conference’s top clubs heading into the 2018-2019 season, Orlando needed to somehow turnaround its fortunes.
Magic center Nikola Vucevic led the team in scoring with 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and second-year player Jonathan Isaac hit a big shot down the stretch as Orlando defeated the Celtics 93-90 Monday night. Orlando evens its record at 2-2 on the season and will take the floor again on Thursday night when they face the Portland Trailblazers at the Amway Center.
“We were aggressive on both ends, but I felt like our defense really got it done,” Vucevic said. “(Boston) is a great team and they have a lot of players who can score, but we did a really good job, we executed the game plan and we didn’t have the little mistakes that hurt us in Philly. It showed in this win.”
Orlando never trailed the entire game and was able to have a solid night shooting from the field, with the Magic going 41 percent overall and 29 percent from 3-point range. It would be the assists category, however, that separated the clubs with the Magic compiling 28 on the night.
The Magic were somewhat dominant in the small forward-power forward matchups between Aaron Gordon/Isaac against Gordon Hayward/Jayson Tatum. The latter ended the evening with just 18 points on 7-of-19 shooting. The only Boston player to end the night with over 20-plus points was point guard Kyrie Irving, who scored 22 on 10-of-19 shooting.
“(The Celtics) had good stretches, but we kept our composure,’’ Orlando shooting guard Evan Fournier said. “The key thing for us is making sure that we execute offensively and defensively. That’s what good teams do, and they don’t panic.”